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THE ROCK FATHER Magazine

Back-to-School: 10 Tips for Keeping Kids Safe

With Back-to-School Season upon us, it's time for a refresher on some helpful tips to keep kids safe throughout the school year. Miriam Sonenschein of RubberMulch checks-in with a guest post featuring 10 Tips for Back-to-School safety, covering everything from walking to school to handling strangers and safety in school and on the playground.

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Garden: Beware The Hogweed... for it will harm you

I'd been meaning to share some words on this one for awhile, but its discovery in Michigan today (and recently being officially outlawed in Illinois) gave me a hearty reminder: Beware The Hogweed.  This gigantic, invasive and highly poisonous oddity first popped-up here in Lake County, Illinois back in 2006, with plants found in Lake Forest. It's a weed with a ton of lookalikes - the 15' Hogweed is almost like a Queen Anne's Lace that's scaled to dinosaur size. It's prickly stalk helps spread sap that can cause blindness, or extremely painful blistering, itching burns that are activated by sunlight. Having already seen it pop-up in other states throughout the Midwest this summer, I'm helping to share the word here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine in hopes that those who encounter this dangerous plant will know to stay away, and alert the proper authorities to help eradicate it. Embedded below are a couple of videos that you need to watch - but be warned that images of the burns may be disturbing for some. The University of Illinois also has some helpful materials that are worth a read, and while this story is certainly picking up steam, you can take comfort in knowing that while Hogweed is spreading, it is still a very rare plant.

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Home Improvement: The Complete Window Replacement of Rock Father HQ - Part IV: Pulling the Trigger & Installation

If you've been following along, you know that we recently completed our first truly major enhancement to Rock Father HQ (sans the garage door a few years back) - total home window replacement. With not a ton of information available online about the true reality of the process, my wife and I decided that I would document the experience here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine in four parts (Part I: BeginningPart II: In-Home Consultations, Part III: The Vast Realm of Pricing), this being the final installment. After careful consideration taking into account the sales approach, style, quality and pricing, we ultimately decided to hire...

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Home Improvement: The Complete Window Replacement of Rock Father HQ - Part III: The Vast Realm of Pricing...

Back in March, I began a series (Part I: Beginning, Part II: In-Home Consultations) about our first truly major project since buying the home that's become known as "Rock Father HQ" back in 2010 - total home window replacement. Rather than wrap it up right away after the install, I wanted to make sure we'd lived with the windows for a bit prior to sharing some final thoughts on the whole thing so that others might have a little more ammo going into their own project. The odd thing is, buying windows is very much a mystery, and with so little information regarding pricing available online (old-school sales tactics that I don't appreciate), I'm letting everyone know how our job played out. Welcome to Part III: The Vast Realm of Pricing.

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Rockin' the Lawn with the Toro Recycler 22" Personal Pace All-Wheel Drive Lawn Mower...

I am officially a lawn nerd. Perhaps "enthusiast" may be a better term, but when it comes to the landscape here at Rock Father HQ, I'm pretty obsessive about it. Prior to owning this home, I'd either owned or used a multitude of different lawn mowers over the years - mowers of all shapes, sizes, brands and power sources. Prior to the 2015 season, I'd spent a few years doing things the old fashioned way - with a reel mower. I went completely old-school, and while there's a lot that I really liked about doing things that way for a bit, I missed power and precision - that well-manicured cut something that seemed farther and farther off each time. I was planning to power-up this season, so when the folks at Toro got in touch about their 2015 offerings, I zeroed in on the Recycler 22" Personal Pace All-Wheel Drive lawn mower. They sent me one for HQ, and rather than flip some quick opinions, I've taken the past 2½ months to really "get to know" the mower so that I can provide all of you with the most comprehensive feedback.

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Join the Craftsman Club & Enter to Win a Chance to Attend the Craftsman MAKEcation in Brooklyn!

Craftsman CrewTHE ROCK FATHER has partnered with Sears as a paid member of the Craftsman Crew. Are you #MadeToMake?

As a kid, the first tools that I ever came to know were Craftsman. Most of those were purchased from the classic Sears store in the long-gone Park Forest Plaza - a store that I have many memories of - a place that seemed larger-than-life. Of those tools, one thing that I eventually inherited was a set of screwdrivers from the late 70s/early 80s - the same ones I use here at Rock Father HQ today... the ones still sold by Craftsman all these years later, and still Made in the USA. They've been regularly-used tools for nearly four decades, and now I use them on my girls' toys. But age has instilled in me a growing urge to make things.

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